This is the beginning of my list of some imaginary (and some real) vehicles that appeared in movies and that I think are super-cool. Note that this is my personal rating — feel free to agree, to disagree, or to create your own list. You’ll get some extra bonus points if you share a link to your list in the comments section!
Now let’s begin.
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1. Batmobile car (🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥) from the movie Batman (1989)
[ ~ source: Batman 80th Anniversary – fathomevents.com ]
This is probably my absolute favorite — the Batmobile. And more specifically, this exact version of the Batmobile.
Directed by Tim Burton and starring Michael Keaton, Jack Nicholson, and Kim Basinger, Batman (1989) was dark and magical. I simply loved it when I saw it on the big cinema screen soon after its release, almost 30 years ago. The actors were brilliant, and the music (composed by Danny Elfman) was a perfect match for the grim story.
But I digress a bit… Back to the car in the movie — the Batmobile. This version of the Batmobile became one of the most iconic car designs ever. And this is for a reason — it was awesome in almost every aspect!
The designer of the Batmobile was Anton Furst who worked under the guidance from Tim Burton.
“We wanted the Batmobile to become some extraordinary machine that you had never seen before,” Anton Furst said. “The car was built in kevlar — a polycarbonate that is extremely light and yet very strong. It is the same material used to make racing cars. We then had a custom paint job done on it. There were about six different layers of colors to give the car the finish of a beetle — a lot of colors coming through the blackness so that it had a three-dimensional quality to it rather than being just a flat black. We did not go to a full gloss on it. We left it with a slight matte finish to make it look more like a war machine.”
Arguably the most popular feature in Batman’s arsenal, the Batmobile presented the filmmakers with their biggest challenge. “The Batmobile worried us a lot,” Tim Burton admitted. “Early on, it seemed that everything Anton and I came up with just looked like we were putting fins on cars. Cars can so easily become a joke — people don’t realize how difficult it is to make a new kind of car.” But envisioning the Batmobile as a kind of shining armor for the Dark Knight, Anton Furst managed to design the vehicle as an extension of Batman himself.
“I never really saw the Batmobile as just a car,” Furst said. “I always thought of it as an appendage to Batman’s exterior — just like his cape or his suit.”
~ source: 1989 Batmobile – 1989batmobile.com
Fun fact #1: The 1989 Batmobile was based on a 1974 V-8 Chevrolet Impala chassis but the car used headlights from a Honda Civic, turned upside down.
Fun fact #2: One of the original Batmobile cars from the 1989 movie appeared in a music video (Batman Evolution) made by The Piano Guys. The online version of the video later disappeared (first from YouTube, and then also from Vimeo), never to return — now you can only listen to the audio track. I guess Warner Brothers filed a complaint with Sony Music (with whom The Piano Guys signed a deal a few years ago), because Batman is copyrighted and the famous car design from the 1989 (and other) movies is copyrighted, too…
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2. The Millennium Falcon spaceship (🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥) from the movie Star Wars: Episode IV — A New Hope (1977) (*)
[ ~ source: The Millennium Falcon – geektyrant.com ]
The Millennium Falcon — sometimes lovingly called by Star Wars fans the “biggest piece of junk in the entire galaxy” — needs no introduction. It appeared in (*) Star Wars: Episode IV — A New Hope (1977), Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back (1980), Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi (1983), and now also in the new Star Wars episodes (VII, VIII, and IX).
This spaceship has an unconventional design. There is some asymmetry to it, some bold elegance! But not only that.
When the first prototype of the Millennium Falcon was designed, George Lucas and his crew realized that it looked too similar to the main ship of “Space: 1999”, a science fiction series that was filmed shortly before A New Hope and aired from 1975 to 1977. (The first prototype of the Falcon still earned its place in the original trilogy: Tantive IV, Princess Leia’s ship in A New Hope from which the droids are sent to Tattooine, was actually a modified and re-scaled prototype of the Falcon.) Since Lucas decided that the Falcon needed to be redesigned, modeler Joe Johnston had about four weeks to create an entirely new version of the Falcon for the filming of A New Hope.
According to the legend of the Falcon’s conceptualization, the final version of the ship was actually inspired by a hamburger. George Lucas allegedly saw a hamburger with a bite taken out of it and an olive pinned to its side and advised Johnston to envision such a shape while designing the flying saucer.
~ source: Star Wars: the final design of the Millennium Falcon — thevintagenews.com
Fun fact: A spaceship design inspired by… a hamburger. ‘Nuff said! :-D
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3. X-Wing starfighter (🔥🔥🔥🔥🧊) from the movie Star Wars: Episode IV — A New Hope (1977) (*)
[ ~ source: What’s different about the new X-Wing? – stackexchange.com ]
While we’re on the subject of Star Wars, I want also to mention the X-Wing starfighter. The X-Wing spaceship/fighter appears in all Star Wars movies, I to IX (*), and although its design changes substantially over the years, one design element remains the same — the ship’s wings open in the shape of the letter “X” (you can see this feature in action in the Death Star battle scene from “A New Hope”).
The X-Wing is cool in many ways, most notably because it can fly in atmosphere, in space, and in hyperspace. Yes, the X-Wing can jump into hyperspace, just like the Millennium Falcon and some larger ships! And to help the pilot, each X-Wing also has a droid which is taking care of calculations related to the hyperspace jumps. Luke Skywalker had R2-D2, for example.
Fun fact: During the shooting of Star Wars IV: A New Hope, Lucas and the Industrial Light & Magic team ran into many unforeseen difficulties, not the least of which were blue screen limitations. These blue screen limitations led to the changing of the name “Blue Squadron” to “Red Squadron” and also to the change in the color of markings on the X-Wing film models.
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4. Lotus Esprit submarine (🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥) from the movie The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)
[ ~ source: Lotus Esprit submarine car – pinterest.com ]
This is an old classic James Bond movie, starring Roger Moore and Barbara Bach. The car in the underwater scenes is a real Lotus Esprit S1 converted into a submarine car for the movie. It’s quite cool! (Here’s an excerpt from the famous over-ground and under-water chase.)
Fun fact: Once the shooting of the movie was completed, the original Lotus Esprit submarine was stored in a New York storage container, then forgotten and abandoned. Later the container was sold for mere $100 (yes, one hundred US dollars). The car was discovered beneath blankets in 1989, and then sold for more than half a million pounds at an auction in London, many years later! Its current owner is Elon Musk.
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5. DeLorean time machine (🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥) from the movie Back to the Future (1985)
[ ~ source: Back to the Future Delorean DMC-12 – drivetribe.com (and also Oto Godfrey and Justin Morton) ]
Do you remember Doc Brown and Marty McFly from Back to the Future. I bet you do!
This movie trilogy (by the team of Steven Spielberg and Robert Zemeckis) featured a real car — the DeLorean DMC-12, modified to become a time machine. Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd were fantastic in this movie!
The DeLorean DMC-12 (the real car) was an almost unique concept. It was only the third car ever to have gull-wing doors! It’s hard to imagine the DeLorean as being a one of a kind, but that was the case. When it was produced, the DMC-12 was also one of the only two rear-engine, rear-wheel-drive cars on the market. Unfortunately for the DeLorean DMC-12, the other car that shared its unique engine configuration was infinitely more popular — that was the legendary Porsche 911. The 911 was smaller, lighter, had four seats, and was much faster… and that’s why it’s still one of the most popular sports cars today.
~ source: 20 things about the DeLorean from Back to the Future – hotcars.com
One of the cars used during the shooting of the three movies is now on a display at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles.
Fun fact #1: Why the specific number of 1.21 gigawatt of power was used in the film? Turns out, 1.21 GW is maybe not a totally arbitrary number. What’s even more interesting, is that the speed of 88 mph (141.5 km/h) also appears to be special — read the comment starting with “An in-universe explanation with a bit of math makes it all clear…”, although the next comment (starting with “Some nice speculations here, but according to producer and co-writer Bob Gale…”) tries to explain that this was just a random, round number.
Fun fact #2: The time machine went through several variations during production of the first film from the Back to the Future trilogy. In the first draft of the screenplay, the time machine was a laser device that was housed in a room; at the end of the first draft the device was attached to a refrigerator and taken to an atomic bomb test site. Director Robert Zemeckis said in an interview later that the idea was scrapped because he did not want children to start climbing into refrigerators and getting trapped inside. In the third draft of the film the time machine was a car, as Zemeckis reasoned that if you were going to make a time machine, you would want it to be mobile. The specific choice of vehicle was a DeLorean DMC-12.
Fun fact #3: There was a popular film exploring the subject of time travel, simply called The Time Machine (1960). It was an inspiration for Back to the Future, and the producers added a neat little tribute to the 1960’s film — the DMC-12’s displays are colored red, yellow, and green, the same colors as used in The Time Machine. The opening scenes of both movies are also similar, in case the homage wasn’t obvious enough!
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6. Porsche 911 car (🔥🔥🔥🔥🧊) from the movie …? From all movies!
[ ~ source: Classic Cars — Porsche 911 (1968) ]
Speaking of the DeLorean DMC-12 and the Porsche 911 — check the previous point 5. — the Porsche 911 is also a super-hot looking car! And the original 911 series is also often cited as the most successful competition car, ever.
So what’s the movie where the famous Porsche 911 appeared in? There are so many of them that it’s hard for me to take my pick! So, let me list just a few + add links to some short movie clips where the Porsche can be seen in action. Brace yourselves!
— The Marseille Contract (1974) – car chase [Porsche 911 vs Alfa Romeo Montreal]
This scene is from the movie The Destructors (1974), with Michael Caine in one of the leading roles. (Note: The original title of the movie was The Marseille Contract.)
— Against All Odds (1984) – car chase [Porsche 911 vs Ferrari 308]
This scene is from the movie Against All Odds (1984) featuring Jeff Bridges and James Woods.
— Red 2 (2013) – car chase [Porsche 911]
This scene is from the movie RED 2 (2013) with Bruce Willis, John Malkovich, and Catherine Zeta-Jones.
Fun fact: Only one man in the world can get into the car like that (just watch the video)! :-)
— Bad Boys (1995) – car chase [Porsche 911 vs Ford Shelby Cobra]
This scene is from the movie Bad Boys (1995), with Will Smith and Martin Lawrence.
— The Porsche 911 appeared briefly (and sometimes, not so briefly) in a number of James Bond movies as well.
— Arnold Schwarzenegger was driving a Porsche 911 in Commando (1985).
— Designers and illustrators are drawing the Porsche 911 all the time.
— The list is too long!
Fun fact: The Porsche 911 made its public debut at the 1963 Internationale Automobil-Ausstellung, better known to English speakers as the Frankfurt Motor Show. It was initially designated as the “Porsche 901”, after its internal project number. However, Peugeot protested on the grounds that in France it had exclusive rights to car names formed by three numbers with a zero in the middle. So, instead of selling the new model with another name in France, Porsche changed the name to… you guessed it right, 911. It went on sale in 1964.
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The end? Not sure… I have more ideas! Hope I’ll have some more free time on my hands to write about cool cars and spaceships! :-)